It’s a magical thing to take four ingredients and turn them into something homemade & spectacular. As we spend more time at home, many of us are also getting creative in our kitchens and looking to accomplish a new feat. One of the most satisfying and useful staples to learn is baking bread at home.
In addition to accomplishing a new cooking skill and enjoying the tastes of your efforts, psychologists say spending time in the kitchen can help relieve stress and improve your mental health. It can be a relaxing and even meditative process. Dough is forgiving, so don’t get stressed if things aren’t perfect.
Bread is one of the world’s most widely consumed foods. Some research suggests that it dates back 30,000 years. There are hundreds of different types of bread and recipes but a few good tips for proper technique will help you pull a delicious loaf from the oven every time.
Before we can jump into technique, we need to look at our ingredients. At Mediterra Bakehouse, we are passionate about sourcing and using only the best ingredients and therefore started farming heritage grains that we mill and turn into flour. We recently started selling two-pound bags online, but if you can’t find a heritage grain flour you can use a high-quality all-purpose baking flour.
Once the ingredients are sourced, the next important step is measuring. I highly recommend using a home digital scale to weigh and measure your ingredients. This will ensure an accuracy that measuring spoons and cups can not. Learn how to use the scale’s taring function and carefully weigh your ingredients separately.
After combining the flour, water, salt and yeast I recommend doing a “preferment” overnight. This allows the dough to ferment before mixing and kneading. It adds flavor to the final bread and eases digestion.
After resting overnight, the dough is then kneaded. The purpose of kneading the dough is to build structure, develop the gluten and incorporate air. The difference between good breads and great ones is the rise time. Most recipes typically instruct for only an hour rise but I recommend two-and-a-half to three hours. The longer proof will result in a better interior crumb.
Baking bread is a great activity or new hobby to take up. Whether you are digging in to your first dough or kneading out your hundredth, there are always new recipes to try, and pulling a hot loaf from your oven can be one of life’s greatest joys.
Written by: Nick Ambeliotis, Mediterra Bakehouse